Tag Archives | Science Fiction

Vernal Venturings

Two weeks ago I was in New Orleans for the PPE conference. I gave a talk at a panel on self-ownership, and moderated two panels I’d organised, one on anarchist legal theory (with [a subset of] the Molinari/C4SS gang), and one on race and social construction. We discovered a great 24-hour Middle Eastern restaurant, Cleo’s (the new one on Decatur, not the old one-inside-a-grocery on Canal).

Last week, back in Auburn, I attended our department’s 11th annual philosophy conference, this one on explanation and idealisation in science. During Q&A I rode my precisive/non-precisive hobbyhorse as usual.

Right now I’m in San Diego for the WPSA, where I’ll be presenting my Shakespeare/Godwin/Kafka talk. Yesterday I stopped by the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore and bought volumes 6 and 7 in the Expanse series (which I’ll be blogging about in due course; just for now I’ll say: it’s good, read it). Had a delicious farfalle al salmone last night at a sidewalk table at Buon Appetito in Little Italy, and enjoyed an omelette-and-bagel breakfast this morning at Harbor Breakfast to the sound of great jazz songs old and new. (I’ve also been violating the laws of physics, because why not?)

(The day before catching my plane from Atlanta to San Diego, I’d planned to drive up early, go to a bookstore in Atlanta, have a leisurely dinner, and then spend the night at a hotel. But the threat of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and two-inch hailstones kept me in Auburn until the evening when the forecast expired, so by the time I got to Atlanta there was time only for a quick bite at the 24-hour Waffle House across from the hotel.)

Next week I’m off to Prague, where I’ll be giving a workshop on praxeology at the CEVRO Institute, and then presenting a slightly revised version of my Čapek/Kafka/Hašek talk (yes, more Kafka!) at the PCPE. (The revision is a very slightly fuller discussion of my suggestion that Kafka’s bureaucratic nightmares are intended to be read at two levels – a political level, where they’re condemned, and a theological level, where they’re not. There’ll be a print version eventually, inshallah.)


Free Comic Book Website Day

Heads up: on March 30th, DC Universe, the DC Comics* streaming service, will be free for one day. It features newer DC shows like Titans, Doom Patrol, and the new season of Young Justice, plus a bunch of older movies and tv shows, both live-action and animated, including favourites like Batman: The Animated Series and not-so-favourites like the 1970s Shazam! live-action tv show. There are lots of popular DC offerings it doesn’t have (yet), but if you like comic-book shows at all, you’ll find something to binge on (and March 30th is, happily, on a weekend).

I won’t be bingeing DC on March 30th, because I’ll be hanging out in one of my favourite cities with some of my favourite people. But if you’re not equivalently fortunate, catching up on some DC shows might be an acceptable alternative.

 

 

 

* “DC Comics” stands for “Detective Comics Comics.” Or possibly for rhis rhis koilē.


Lockwood Turner Overman

So Ben Lockwood (Agent Liberty) on Supergirl, Jace Turner on The Gifted, and Orlin Dwyer (Cicada) on The Flash are all different versions of the same character arc, right?

In all three cases, someone starts out a decent-seeming guy who initially has no problem with superhumans (be they aliens, mutants, or metahumans, depending on the show); but after his family suffers as a result of a conflict between two different groups of superhumans, he devotes himself to a campaign against them, drawing no distinction between the good and the bad, thereby becoming a partly sympathetic albeit mostly infuriating antagonist.

From left to right:  Lockwood, Turner, Dwyer

From left to right: Lockwood, Turner, Dwyer

There are some differences, of course. For example: Lockwood becomes the leader of the anti-superhuman campaign; Turner is just one member among many; and Dwyer works (mostly) solo. Also: Lockwood’s story is a clear – indeed heavy-handed – metaphor for anti-immigrant hysteria and alt-right media manipulation in the Age of Trump; Turner is a vaguer symbol for various kinds of bigotry and police overreach; and Dwyer’s character doesn’t seem to be intended to make any particular political point.

I’d also say that of the three, Lockwood is the most interesting – partly because Sam Witwer is the most talented of the three actors involved, partly because he gets more clever dialogue. Lockwood’s a less sympathetic antagonist than Turner because he’s slimier and more self-aware, while Turner is sort of perpetually befuddled; but Witwer gives Lockwood a kind of goofy, smarmy charm that’s creepily engaging, while Turner is as bland as a slab of beef. But the most boring and single-note of all is Dwyer, who seems to be of the school of thought that Christian Bale’s Batman voice was too soft and subtle. (Flash is lucky to have the best villain of the three shows this year, but it ain’t Dwyer.)

         

In related news: on tonight’s Supergirl, Lex Luthor refers to a quotation from Epicurus as being 230 years old. Off by a factor of ten, dude! If you’re that sloppy with measurement, no wonder your superhero-killing devices keep failing.

(I also have a hard time making sense of Manchester Black’s motivations in this episode. What was up with that? SPOILER ALERT: I’ll say more in the comments section below.)


Names, Wanted and Unwanted

Many days passed before we could speak to the Golden One again. But then came the day when the sky turned white, as if the sun had burst and spread its flame in the air, and the fields lay still without breath, and the dust of the road was white in the glow. … But the Golden One stood alone at the hedge, waiting. …

And we said: “We have given you a name in our thoughts, Liberty 5-3000.”

“What is our name?” they asked.

“The Golden One.”

– Ayn Rand, Anthem

In despair I followed him into the Madidinou Fields, in an afternoon in the end of the dry season. … He turned away and went on working. …

I said, “Once I gave you a name in my heart. Do you want to know what it was?”

He said nothing, did not look at me, and went on working.

I left him there with his cutting knife and basket and walked away between the long-armed, contorted vines. Their large leaves were rust-colored in the dusty light. The wind blew dry and hard.

– Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home


I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face

Heh. In tonight’s episode of Discovery, if memory serves (no, that’s not the episode title; that’s last week’s episode title), there was one point at which Pike was sharing the bridge with seven women, one of them his superior officer (Cornwell, Burnham, Tilly, Nhan, Airiam, Owo, and Detmer). He seemed unfazed. He’s evidently made a bit of progress in what’s supposed to be just three years.

Or we can take Pike’s earlier attitude as something that never really happened, which is clearly how we’re supposed to take the no-female-captains rule in “Turnabout Intruder.” Sometimes retconning is the simplest solution.


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